LIAM Bailey, Dog Is Dead, Natalie Duncan, Swimming, Ronika... Nottingham’s music scene is stronger than it’s been in more than a decade. And the latest name to add to that list of homegrown talent who could go all the way is Hhymn.
The alt-folk quintet have just released their debut album, In The Depths, on Nottingham label Denizen Recordings and the anticipation for it was such that their launch gig at the Malt Cross was a sell-out.
“It was quite overwhelming how many people turned up,” says singer and guitarist Ed Bannard, taking a break from painting to sit on a hill in East Bridgford, the only place his mobile will receive calls.
“There were about 20 people outside who couldn’t get in at one stage,” he says of the 300-capacity venue in St James’ Street.
“It’s quite difficult to play on that small stage, particularly when there were nine of us.”
The core of Hhymn are Ed (guitar/vocals), co-songwriter Simon Ritchie (guitar), Michael Wynne (drums), Will Jeffrey (bass) and Amy Helliwell (trumpet, melodica, glockenspiel).
The additional players bring zithers, mandolins, ukuleles, harmoniums, dulcimers, double basses, brass and brushes and it’s this parade of instruments that characterises the Hhymnsound. There’s even a saw on the album.
“If you bend a saw in a certain way and get a violin bow on it, you can make really nice notes that sound a bit like a theramin,” says Ed.
The release follows championing by everyone from 6 Music’s Tom Robinson to Burton Joyce’s Gavin And Stacey star Mat Horne, who invited them to play at his Sessions club night in London.
Ed says: “At the moment there is a really good vibe in Nottingham and it’s quite a close community of bands. There’s a really good underground scene as well as the guys like Liam Bailey, Dog Is Dead and Swimming who are making it into the magazines. And all them are bigging up Nottingham, which is really good.”
He adds: “The bands in Nottingham are stellar at the moment and it would be great for the city to get the recognition it deserves, in the same way Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds. Nottingham’s never really had that. The industry just seems to fly over us.”
The album is available at all online retailers as a CD and download but in Nottingham it’s currently only on sale from the Music Exchange in West End Arcade.
It was recorded by Denizen Recordings boss Pete Fletcher at Confetti Studios using the Neve VR60 mixing desk, which was previously used at Rockfield Studios in Wales on Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, The Stone Roses’ Second Coming and Ash’s 1977.
“It has a lot of history but I don’t think that had as much to do with the sound as Pete’s production,” says Ed.
“That was a massive part of it. The songs stand up on their own but the production wraps it all up in nice gold paper.”